Many people don’t know this about me but I’m a huge X-Men movies fan. I couldn’t care less about the comics, the films have all the good stuff and none of the struggling to read tiny weird print. The boyfriend and I have been looking forward to X-Men: Apocalypse since it was announced back in 2013. On the back of the recent success of, possibly my favourite Marvel film to date, Days of Future Past, I had such very, very high expectations.
“With the emergence of the world’s first mutant, Apocalypse, the X-Men must unite to defeat his extinction level plan” – IMDB
The plot was a bit rubbish, there’s no way around saying it so I’ll be honest. I knew what it was going to be about but everything was just awful. Nothing really made sense and parts of the storyline felt like they were held together with pieces of string. Characters were thrown in there without real purpose, it was a bit of a disaster. The only saving grace was Magneto’s very brief story. It was heartfelt and the character and actor was woefully underutilized throughout the entire film.
After the opening sequence, and already feeling a bit let down, I was spurred on by the fact that the cast list of XMA was amazing. It had the main characters of the previous films (McAvoy, Fassbender, Lawrence etc) and introduced new comers Sophie Turner as Young Jean Grey/Phoenix, Oscar Isaac as Apocalypse and Kodi Smit-McPhee as Nightcrawler. Plus the obligatory Wolverine/Hugh Jackman cameo. They gave us 10 minutes of Young Stryker plus a few little hints that didn’t amount to anything. The producers also brought back my favourite of all the mutants; Quicksilver aka Evan Peters, which I was really VERY excited about.
While the sheer volume of current actors involved was impressive, the quality of their performances was not.
As far as conforming to the look of the character, Sophie Turner is an acceptable choice for YJG but she simply isn’t a good actor. In everything I’ve seen her in, she’s wooden and uninteresting to say the least. XMA is no exception. She spends the film making annoying hand gestures, gazing off in random directions and having the exact same slack-jawed, mildly worried facial expression in any given situation.
Nightcrawler was the big save of the baby X-Men. Kodi Smit-McPhee pulled it off in a way I hadn’t been expecting. He was sad and wide-eyed, but had a bit of fight in him. He’s not terribly brilliant, but he brought some life to the character. Something which this film is sorely lacking. It’s all a bit, well, flat. Quicksilver, or Magneto Jnr, popped up about halfway through and they basically replicated the Time in a Bottle sequence from DOFP but it wasn’t anywhere near as fun or memorable. Then, the producers did the ONE thing I prayed they wouldn’t do.
They ruined Peter Maximoff.
They gave him daddy issues and they took away the majority of his sense of humour. They RUINED a fun, cheeky character who was supposed to bring some light comic relief to the dark themes. And for this, I will never forgive the director Bryan Singer.
The ruining of characters didn’t stop there, oh no! Roughly every 10 minutes they had Charles Xavier look at someone admiringly or shed a single tear. Then Magneto had a good whinge (although his reasons for it were justified whereas Charles is just whiny). Even Mystique did nothing but watch Magneto unhappily and sulk on the sidelines. They reintroduced Moira McTaggert (Rose Byrne) who had 3 minutes of action then knit her eyebrows together for the rest of the film. They also gave us Psylocke (Olivia Munn) and li’l Storm (Alexandra Shipp) who gained powers and inexplicably lost clothes. Storm was an annoyance, but to be fair, she was already the worst.
The last character I want to mention is Apocalypse himself. The first mutant, he’s hell-bent on destroying a world that has supposedly gone to pot since his incarceration. If you think the invention of high-speed internet and Krispy Kreme is wrong then I don’t know what’s right.
He also reminded me of a cross between Ultron and Jarvis from Avengers: Age of Ultron. I’m not sure why. Either way, being the villain of the story, he was highly under-developed. His motives were weak and didn’t really offer much insight into anything.
I’ve talked enough about the disappointing characters, let’s move on.
So this time around it was set in 1983, which as far as aesthetics go, is kind of meh. No one likes the 80s style. Big hair, big shoulders and awful makeup? No thank you. By the end of it, I wanted to burn those awful pants they put Charles in. He looked like Mick Jagger in the Dancing in the Street video.
But if they’re going to do this X-Men through the ages things, they have to do all the decades. Even the supremely gaudy ones. The 80s saving grace? A killer soundtrack. However, this wasn’t utilised in the way that I expected. Marvel gave us two songs synonymous with the era; from Metallica and the Eurythmics. Most of the soundtrack was classical score. As gorgeous as it was, I was hoping for at least a bit of Bowie.
Also impressive, which we didn’t have in the 80s, were the CGI special effects. Parts of the film are visually spectacular, the credit sequence was my absolute favourite 30 seconds of run time. I won’t go into details as I don’t want to ruin it! However, about half an hour in, it became glaringly obvious that their budget was misappropriated. All the major money had gone on the CGI and procuring the big names. Less funding was put into the basics such as costuming. Mystique’s blue get-up looked cheap on occasion, especially the orange wig. It was awful, which is a massive shame considering the amount of people who worked on the costume design and special effects makeup.
Now we get to the last portion of this review and the reason I am so infuriated by this film.
The script was the worst thing I’ve ever heard. About 10 minutes in, I SHIT YOU NOT, Mystique *actually* says “No, kid, I told you. I work alone”.
From then on it got worse. I don’t know what the scriptwriters were thinking. It was crammed with clichés, laden with over the top declarations, they even tossed a few “jokes” around and yet, none of it was any good. I’ve heard the same boring lines in a million other films.
And if Charles Xavier had cried one more time I would have choked him to death with the remnants of his own hair.